ICC Cricket World Cup, 2014/15 news from ESPN

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I have defended him when others have criticised him. Yet something has changed this year.

ike Kevin Pietersen. Take as you find, I've always thought, and Kevin has always been a most polite, well-mannered and well-brought-up person. I have felt privileged to have watched a rare talent over the past five years and have enjoyed dealing with him as a media man.

Dropped: KP was axed from the England squad on Tuesday

Dropped: KP was axed from the England squad on Tuesday

I have defended him when others have criticised him. Yet something has changed this year. He has been, as Nasser Hussain said on these pages yesterday, a man apart. He has always been more popular in the dressing room than common perception would suggest but this year he has seemed detached.

He has been wary of doing press conferences, has felt that his honesty and openness have counted against him and, most importantly, has lost that spark on the field that made him such a special batsman.

Whether he regains it now, after being dropped by England for the first time, is the crucial question. But we must not be surprised if we never again see the outrageous shots and sheer self-belief that have characterised his game ever since that Ashes-winning hundred at The Oval in 2005.

Three big things have made KP different now. The loss of the England captaincy hurt him more than has been acknowledged and it clearly has been eating away at him that Andrew Strauss has had the working environment he craved when he told his employers that England would never fulfil their potential with Peter Moores as coach.

Then the achilles injury which struck last year proved far more serious than any of us imagined, and Pietersen's sense of disillusionment was increased by what he considered poor medical treatment.

Finally, and most significantly, he has become a father and has become so enveloped in family life that his hunger for cricketing achievement has taken second place in his list of priorities.

If Kevin Pietersen does not become a great, if he does not go on to make 10,000 Test runs, it does not mean that he has failed. But it would be a great shame for those of us who thought we were seeing cricketing history in the making while watching him.

The ICC have a job to do when these enquiries are concluded

There are more questions than answers, sang Johnny Nash, and cricket is suffering big time right now. Is it 'shock, horror, outrage' though? I think not.

Since spread and spot-betting came into vogue, sport in general has become vulnerable. Novelty bets started it all off. How many seconds before the first throw in at football?
Accused: Mohammad Aamer

Accused: Mohammad Aamer

How many 'dot' balls in an individual's innings at cricket? You could go through most sports and have a wager on 'a bit of fun'.

To my knowledge the regulated bookmakers knocked this sort of stuff on the head and your major players in the UK such as Coral, William Hill and Betfair are all very much above board.

Many people whom I speak to say that betting on sport should be banned. They miss the point in relation to this latest scandal. The bookmakers concerned are illegal and operate overseas, mainly in India and Dubai, but have operatives in the UK.

Here is another question. Is it a culture thing? This sort of betting has a habit of implicating Pakistan. Do the players concerned know that they have done something very wrong and immoral which damages the game?

Or is it something that they have been doing throughout their formative years? 'An odd no-ball here and there. What's the problem?'

There is a sinister side to this, too, if you believe the rumours and tittle-tattle going about. Families are threatened and homes are at risk if players do not comply. This, to us in the cosy UK, seems far-fetched but until you go to Pakistan or India you cannot begin to grasp what cricket means over there.

The ICC have a job to do when these enquiries are concluded. Big name players, in the recent past, have been censured but not a great deal has been done and many have high-profile jobs in the game.

Whether the ICC's hands have been tied legally I don't know, but clearly more has to be done. Other teams will have been approached and if the Metropolitan Police have entered the rabbit warren we may be in for a painful time in this glorious game's history. Sad times.

Malik said that she broke with Asif due to his links with the bookies.

Giving a twist to the ongoing controversy, Veena Malik, ex-girlfriend of Pakistan's fast bowler Mohammad Asif, revealed startling news against the national cricket players and its management, saying that all players and the PCB officials, from top to bottom, are involved in the match-fixing mess.

Since the news of match-fixing surfaced during the Lord's test, Veena Malik, a TV comedian, who also appeared in a number of Punjabi movies, became one of the most vocal person, blaming her former lover and the PCB officials on several TV stations. She claimed that her former partner Mohammad Asif had links with the Indian bookies.

Malik said that she will meet the ICC's anti-corruption unit official Reza Hasan in connection with her revelations that Asif has links with Indian bookies. Hasan arrived Pakistan on Wednesday to probe the match-fixing drama.

"I have been called by a senior police officer who told me that an ICC anti-corruption unit official will meet me tomorrow (Thursday) to ascertain the truth of the revelations I made about Asif and his links with Indian bookies," Malik stated.

Veena Malik claimed that Asif had confessed during a phone call from Australia that there were plans to throw the three Test matches against the Australian side.

He allegedly told Ms Malik to "stop praying - we will not win a single match during the tour to Australia".

"When Pakistan started losing matches in Australia, I jokingly said "For God's sake, win a match." And he replied "We won't win anything until 2010," she said.

" Pakistan Cricket Board had proofs of all these irregularities but refrained from going against Asif or others like him. And why will the PCB officials take any action as they themselves are part of the entire dirty game," Malik remarked.

Malik and Asif enjoyed intimate relationship for quite some time. Malik stressed that Asif was involved in match fixing and his links with bookies, particularly, the Indian ones, had come to light when she travelled with him to Bangkok before Pakistan's tour of Australia.

She revealed that Asif had told her that he was offered $40,000 by an Indian bookie to underperform in Australia but he had demanded $200,000.

She said that Pakistani skipper Salman Butt and pacer Mohammad Aamer, the two other players involved in the spot-fixing scandal were not Asif's friends.
"Perhaps the common cause (of match-fixing) has brought them closer," she said.

Malik said that she broke with Asif due to his links with the bookies.

"Being a patriotic Pakistani, I did not want him to indulge in such activities," she said. Malik earlier claimed on TV that Asif was a drunkard and it was difficult to handle him. She also claimed that Asif had to return her money which he borrowed from her. By then, the news in media was that Asif wanted to get rid of her.

A PCB official, wishing not to be named, said that Malik was "heartbroken" after her split with Asif and had been targeting the cricketer since he refused to marry her.

"In the light of this, her allegations should not be taken seriously," the official said.

Ban Pakistan trio if guilty of fixing: Warne

Three Pakistan cricketers should face a life ban if they are found guilty of being involved in a betting scam, Australian leg-spin great Shane Warne said on Thursday.

Captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif, currently on tour in England, have been summoned to London to meet the Pakistan Cricket Board chief and the country's ambassador to Britain.

Britain's News of the World newspaper has alleged that several Pakistan players were part of a scam to bowl deliberate no-balls at precise points in last week's Test match against England.

"If it is true and they have been found (guilty of) match-fixing and throwing games and spot-betting with the no-balls and stuff, if that's the case they should be thrown out," Warne told reporters.

"It's as simple as that. I don't think there should be any other way to do it.

"If it's fixed by players, they should be banned for life. Anyone who's involved should be thrown out."

The International Cricket Council has promised "prompt and decisive action" if the spot-fixing allegations linked to underworld betting rings are proven.

The man at the centre of the alleged scam has also reportedly boasted that he earned 1.3 million US dollars for fixing January's Sydney Test between Australia and Pakistan, when the visitors threw away a commanding position.

Warne was a television commentator during the Sydney Test when Pakistan's bizarre field placings and batting collapse helped Australia claim an unlikely come-from-behind victory.

"They are only allegations at the moment so I suppose you have to say innocent until proven guilty," Warne said.

"But looking back at the (Sydney) Test match, if it was fixed, you could understand how it was fixed by the way they were captaining the side and their tactics.

"It would make sense -- if it was true."

Warne has had his own trouble with shady characters who stalk the game.

In 1998 the bowler and batsman Mark Waugh were fined by Australia's cricket board for providing information to an Indian bookmaker during a tour of Sri Lanka four years earlier.